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​How mentoring shapes young lives and changes outlooks

​How mentoring shapes young lives and changes outlooks

20th Jul 2021

Sysmax promotes personal development, with a commitment to mentoring as a means to help shape young lives and change outlooks.

The University of Leeds (UoL) Career Centre runs a one-year mentoring scheme for final-year students to support their personal development. It's a chance for them to learn from a professional, who can share their expertise, knowledge and insights into forging a career in tough times. In the previous blog in this series, we looked at our CEO Peter McAteer's perspective on his participation in the scheme. This time round, we're speaking to two people he's supported through the scheme: his current mentee, Davis, and his mentee from the 2017-18 programme, Harry. We'll be finding out how being part of the mentoring scheme has made a difference to them, and what the future may hold.

Davis's experience of mentoring in pandemic times

For Davis, it's been challenging finishing his degree this year in pandemic times. He cites three reasons for getting involved in the mentoring programme. He was looking for a focus to develop skills other than the academic rigour of his degree course. He'd met and been encouraged into the scheme by Peter’s then mentee during his first year at UoL. And he was interested in Peter's background and identified that his experience in the oil and gas sector would be useful.

Davis has found the mentoring programme really rewarding. He cited Peter's general approach in finding out about and challenging his mentees' outlook, encouraging them to think beyond their academic skills. In particular, Davis mentioned materials that Peter’s shared, which have helped him work out where he fits in the world. But it's also strengthened Davis's intention to continue with his studies. He's been inspired to apply for a master’s degree specialising in sustainability, rather than focusing purely on the petroleum sector. And Davis says that he now recognises the importance of soft skills, in addition to academic and vocational training.

Three years on from the mentoring programme, how has Harry fared?

Similarly for Harry, having recently completed post-graduate study, the Covid-19 pandemic altered his outlook. But Harry's experience of mentoring during his final year studying petroleum engineering was also overwhelmingly positive. He echoes Davis, in citing the importance of networking and developing inter-personal skills around communication and persuasion, which can be downplayed in academic study. He was initially concerned that the scheme would be somewhat formal but Peter's approachability, flexibility, and commitment to the programme put his mind at rest.

He says Peter's experience provided him with a unique insight into the oil and gas sector, especially around sustainability. Harry says he hasn't changed his long-term outlook on his career path, as he completed an MA in chemical engineering at UoL. But he acknowledges a fresh focus on cleaner energy and reducing the oil and gas sector's carbon footprint.

Harry also benefitted in a practical way from the mentoring programme, completing a summer internship at Sysmax. His role focused on health & safety in oil- and gas-sector well integrity, to help develop Sysmax's compliance management products. And as time moves on, Harry has found support from Peter developing into coaching for specific goals such as job applications. Indeed, Peter helped Harry to secure a full-time role at Neptune Energy, which he recently started. You can read about some of our project work with Neptune Energy here >.

Investing in the talent pipeline for a sustainable future

The mentees both confirmed how mentoring has had a positive impact for them. Davis in particular was initially sceptical about how much it might change his outlook but acknowledges that it's made him re-evaluate his future. Meanwhile, Harry states that his positive experience as a mentee means he'd like to become a mentor himself in future years. 

As he says, "it's so valuable for students to have role models who can give them a fresh perspective beyond academic study."

Interested in mentoring?

If this has inspired you to consider mentoring, you can find more about the University of Leeds mentoring scheme here  (opens in a new window). The Career Centre can provide guidance about what becoming a mentor involves - and they'd be happy to hear from you.

In our next blog in this series, we're going to focus on how the Covid-19 pandemic presented Harry and Davis with serious problems, but how mentoring has boosted their resilience.

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Contact one of the team today to find out more about how Sysmax helps to develop young talent, by offering employment opportunities for students and graduates, and our support of Leeds University.

Post by Marc Bates

Marc leads the marketing and communications strategy at Sysmax and oversees the development of our website. His focus is on demonstrating the rich history of the Sysmax team, and how together they have developed products that resolve real-world issues for businesses, improving performance and reducing risks.